General information for surrogates

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is the act of one woman carrying and giving birth to a baby that isn’t hers. Advancements in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization with an embryo transfer (IVF/ET), make it possible for infertile and same-sex couples to use surrogacy to start a family.

What is the difference between a traditional and gestational surrogate?

A gestational (formerly known as traditional) surrogate is artificially inseminated with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor and donates her egg, giving the surrogate a genetic link to the child. The gestational surrogate is more common. In her case, the eggs are harvested from the intended mother or egg donor, fertilized with sperm from the intended father or sperm donor and transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. The gestational surrogate has no genetic link to the baby.

What does a surrogate do?

A surrogate carries a child (or children in the case of multiples) for another person or couple, from embryo transfer through the baby’s birth. As a gestational surrogate, you have no genetic link to the child. We work with you throughout the surrogacy journey, from your initial contact with our agency to six-weeks post-delivery.

What are the benefits of being a surrogate?

Women choose to become surrogates for a variety of reasons. In addition to financial compensation, surrogates feel deep satisfaction and joy for helping a couple or person create the family they couldn’t create on their own. A rich and rewarding bond develops between you and the intended parents. You become part of a community of women who enjoyed being surrogates and, if you’re like the majority, you love being pregnant.

What risks come with being a surrogate?

The risks most often associated with surrogacy are the same medical risks common to pregnancy, ranging from mild discomfort and morning sickness to more serious complications like the loss of fertility. Prior to beginning the medical portion of the surrogacy process, your fertility specialist talks with you about the risks of surrogacy; those risks are also outlined in your legal contract. You’re compensated for any complications that arise during the pregnancy, including bed rest, termination or selective reduction and loss of fertility.

Surrogates are also at risk emotionally. While most surrogates agree that they don’t bond as intensely with their surrogate babies as they do with their own children, you may experience feelings of grief or loss following the birth of the baby. We require surrogates to meet with a mental health professional prior to starting the surrogacy process. Understanding the possible emotional complications ahead of time helps you know what to expect and possibly make any difficult feelings easier to handle.

What are the requirements to become a surrogate?

  • Overall good health, with no psychiatric illness or sexually transmitted diseases

  • Financially secure and not receiving state or federal government assistance

  • Has the support and understanding of a spouse or close family

  • Has given birth to at least one child whom she is currently raising and has no history of complicated pregnancies

  • Preferably 21-35 years of age, up to healthy early 40s

  • Does not smoke tobacco or marijuana and is not exposed to second-hand smoke

  • Does not use illegal drugs or live with someone who does

  • Does not abuse alcohol

  • Has a healthy height-to-weight ratio (Body Mass Index) as determined by a medical professional

  • Has a reliable mode of transportation

  • Agrees to a full and thorough review of all official medical records directly obtained from treating physicians (these records are reviewed only by a medical professional)

  • Consents to a criminal and residential background check for herself and spouse or partner (if applicable)

  • Enjoys being pregnant and genuinely desires to help others create or add to their family

If you meet Pacific Northwest Surrogacy’s initial surrogate requirements, you are asked to complete additional screening including a psychological evaluation and possible additional medical workup. This screening process is designed to ensure that you’re physically and emotionally ready to become a healthy and successful surrogate. 

What does “an uncomplicated and healthy” pregnancy mean?

An uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy is one that results in a full-term birth without complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, bed rest, blood transfusion or other issues that require significant intervention.

Why does receiving government assistance disqualify me?

The happiest and most successful surrogates pursue surrogacy because they want to help others, not because they see an opportunity for financial gain. Additionally, the compensation earned by a surrogate could result in ineligibility for most government-assisted programs.

Can I qualify as a surrogate even though I’m 40 years old?

As a woman approaches 40, her hormonal levels are more likely to fluctuate and the health risks of pregnancy for her and the baby are greater. For these reasons, IVF clinics establish their own age limits, typically under 40. Having said that, we have seen clinics make exceptions for women who are exceptionally healthy.

My BMI is elevated even though I’ve had healthy pregnancies with no complications; why is BMI so important?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Women within a certain BMI range are more likely to respond positively to IVF medications. Fertility clinics set their own BMI guidelines. A few extra pounds aren’t necessarily an issue. Still have questions? Contact us, let’s talk about it.

How do I know if I’m a good fit for surrogacy?

Surrogates are typically fun-loving, warm and open-hearted women. They’ve enjoyed at least one low-risk, healthy pregnancy. They’re passionate about birthing a baby for deserving parents who can’t have their own. Altruistic motives play a big role in their decision. Even though surrogates are compensated, financial gain usually isn’t the driving force behind their decision.

Who are intended parents?

Intended parents come from varying backgrounds and walks of life. Some are infertile couples who desperately want a child. Same-sex couples sometimes choose surrogacy to create a family. Other intended parents are single men and women who want a child. As a surrogate in our program, you decide what type of intended parents you’re comfortable with before we suggest a match. You also have the opportunity to meet the intended parent(s) before agreeing to move forward with a surrogacy contract. We do not choose for you, nor do we rush you into making a decision before you’re ready.

Can I work with intended parents I already know?

Yes. Many surrogates choose to carry a pregnancy for a close friend or family member. Be advised, however, that pregnancy can put a strain on the relationship and create issues that become problematic. As advocates for both parties, our agency steps in to resolve those issues before tensions escalate and jeopardize the relationship. We’re happy to talk with you about specific services designed to safeguard your relationship with your friend or family member. 

Why does someone choose to be a surrogate?

Women choose to become surrogates for a variety of reasons. In addition to financial compensation, surrogates feel deep satisfaction and joy for helping a couple or person create the family they couldn’t create on their own. A rich and rewarding bond develops between you and the intended parents. You become part of a community of women who enjoyed being surrogates and, if you’re like the majority, you love being pregnant.

Is surrogacy legal in Pacific northwest?

Surrogacy is legal in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and surrogates in these states can be compensated for their services.

Do you work with surrogates outside of the Pacific Northwest?

Currently we work exclusively with surrogates who reside in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We like the personal touch and support that being local allows us to provide. We do, however, work with intended parents from all over the world. If you are not lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, we recommend you check out our sister agencies through Bright Futures Families, LLC to see if we have a location in your state.

After the birth will I have a hard time giving the baby to the intended parents?

Most surrogates do not experience the same level of bonding with the baby as they did with their own child. While they may experience mixed feelings after the birth, mostly they’re excited to give the gift of a child to another family.

How does being a surrogate impact my children and my partner?

Many surrogates report that their surrogacy is a wonderful experience for their entire family. The surrogacy creates an opportunity to demonstrate generosity and thoughtfulness to your children and to teach them that families are made in all sorts of ways.

What is required of the surrogate’s spouse or partner?

Your spouse or partner must agree to participate in medical screening (HIV, Hepatitis B and C, CMV and any other sexually transmitted diseases and disorders). The same request must be made of any person with whom you have had sexual contact during the six months prior to applying as a surrogate.

For married surrogates, spouses must become parties to the contract, agree to receive no tattoos or body piercings during the contract and must cooperate with all provisions of the contract. Most intended parents want to meet the surrogate’s spouse or partner.

Can I be a surrogate if my spouse or partner doesn’t approve?

No. It’s important that you have their full support, for emotional, as well as legal reasons.

Spouse/partner Questions

I’m not sure how I feel about my spouse’s desire to have a child for someone else; what if we still want to have our own children?

This is definitely something to talk about with your spouse. We advise that our surrogate applicants feel that their family is “complete,” i.e. that you’ve had all the children you intend to have. We also understand this may not be the case for every woman who’s interested in being a surrogate. Surrogacy does not prevent a woman from having another child in the future. What needs to be discussed is the very rare possibility that the surrogacy pregnancy would cause complications that prevent your spouse from having another child.

Can my spouse become a surrogate without my consent?

No, absolutely not. She must have your full support in her decision to become a surrogate; even more importantly, she needs your support during the pregnancy. We do not want this process to negatively impact your family. Although your spouse carries the child, this is a team effort. Surrogacy can be physically and emotionally challenging for both the surrogate’s family and the intended parents. Surrogacy is a decision the two of you need to make together. The journey is more successful—and more enjoyable—if you’re both on the same page.

How long do we need to abstain from intercourse?

Each fertility center sets their own policies in this matter, but typically you would need to abstain for several weeks to a few months during the time surrounding the transfer procedure.

How is my family, particularly our young children, going to deal with the fact that my wife won’t be coming home from the hospital with a baby?

An open and honest approach with children, regardless of their age, is best. Even young children can be very receptive and understanding of the surrogate process when they hear about it in age-appropriate terms. Children are open-minded and non-judgmental and can be very supportive. We’re happy to suggest age-appropriate ways to discuss the process with your children, and great books are available on the subject. We can also provide referrals to therapists and psychologists who can prepare your children for the birth.

I’m worried that my wife or I may become attached to the child and that could have serious emotional consequences for our family.

This is very rare. Going into the process with the knowledge that this child is not your genetic child helps to provide some separation and healthy detachment. Some level of attachment is to be expected; without it, a surrogate wouldn’t provide the necessary qualities to protect the child’s well-being. Think of yourselves as the child’s guardians or nannies for nine months. Just as teachers love and nurture the children in their care, they also know that at three o’clock the children go home with their parents, and that’s the best place for them to be. Some feelings of grief following the birth are normal and healthy. Typically these are not sad feelings over the loss of a child but rather sadness that the experience has come to an end. The surrogate and the intended parents often become very close during the pregnancy. When the baby comes, any sadness is usually mixed with positive feelings about the gift you and your spouse have given this family. In all likelihood, you share in their happiness.  

How do I explain that my wife is a surrogate to our friends and family?

How you handle this is a personal decision. You’re not legally required to tell anyone anything; however, we find that most surrogates and their spouses are very excited about their impending adventure and are happy to share it with their family and friends. Although you may be confronted with mixed emotions and many questions, most people encounter a positive response. What you say and who you tell is your choice. Your sense of humor is your ally. “It’s not my baby” is a great response to, “I didn’t know your wife was pregnant.”

What happens if there’s a complication during the pregnancy or birth?

Complications can happen in any pregnancy or birth. They’re part of the risks you and your spouse must be willing to take. That said, your spouse is at no greater risk for complications during a surrogate pregnancy than with a regular pregnancy. Although complications are rare, we recommend that you and your spouse consult with her OB/GYN to discuss potential risks. Our job is to provide your family with the resources and support to get you through any tough times and to provide the care you require.

What if death occurs?

Death during childbirth or due to complications from pregnancy is extremely rare. The maternal death rate in the U.S. in 2015 was 14 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Statistics indicate that many of these deaths could have been prevented. We do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our surrogates, including the provision of a life insurance policy as additional financial security for the surrogate’s family.

Am I involved in the matching process?

Yes! You and your wife both need to be happy with your intended parents and share the desire to work together during this incredible journey.

Our Process

What is Pacific northwest Surrogacy’s screening process for surrogate applicants?

The first step is to complete our online intake form. We review it and contact you within 48 business hours to answer you questions about surrogacy and further discuss your history. We then send you a link to our online application and after you have filled it out, we will prepare medical records releases for you to sign so that we may obtain your pregnancy and delivery medical records. Once we have your medical records, they will be reviewed by our physician. If we get the thumbs up, you’ll complete more paperwork (background checks, benefits package, OB release form), and we will schedule an in-person meeting to get to know you and begin your profile. You will also schedule a psychological screening. Once all of the screenings and paperwork comes back complete, you profile will be completed and the matching process begins.

Why do you need my social security number?

We need your social security number to complete your background check.

I do not believe in selective reduction or abortion for any reason; can I still be a surrogate?

Yes. We work with intended parents who share these beliefs. However, they’re less common so be aware that it may take a bit longer to match you.

Does Pacific Northwest Surrogacy help gay or same-sex couples?

Absolutely. We’re proud of our commitment to the LGBTQ community. We believe families are created through love, not gender. It’s that simple.

How long does the surrogacy process take?

We can’t make promises but typically surrogates are matched with intended parents within 2-3 months of being cleared to be part of our program. Because the psychological and initial medical screenings are part of the intake process, things move rather quickly and we can get to legal procedures in another 1-2 months. The embryo transfer occurs 3-4 weeks after the legal contracts are completed. Pregnancy happens (hopefully on the first IVF attempt). Provided there are no complications, you deliver the baby nine months later.

Do I need to travel?

Whether or not you travel depends entirely on the location of the fertility center chosen by your intended parents. If the center isn’t located near your home, you travel to the clinic for the screening and embryo transfer. The intended parents cover the cost of your travel. If travel is prohibitive for you, we match you with intended parents who are using a local clinic. Be advised that a no-travel requirement may cause a delay in matching.

Do I get to choose the intended parents?

Yes, the surrogacy match is a mutual agreement. We facilitate your initial meeting with the intended parents, usually via Skype. After that meeting you both have time to determine if you want to move forward together, or not. If yes, you are matched with those parents. If not, we create a new match based on shared values, interests and expectations.

How much contact do I have with the intended parents?

As much as you both want. We try to match you with intended parents with similar needs. It’s very important that you let your case worker know what level of contact you desire. After legal has been completed, intended parents and surrogates can arrange to meet at their own discretion.

Am I compensated?

Yes, you’re compensated monthly in accordance with your legal contract. Our compensation for surrogates is highly competitive.

I’m currently breastfeeding; can I apply to be a surrogate?

Yes, you may apply. If your application is approved, we begin the screening process. However, we cannot match you with intended parents until you have completely weaned and had at least one menstrual cycle.

Can I be a surrogate if I took an anti-depressant for post-partum depression?

You should not be a surrogate if you’ve taken anti-depressants within the last 6-12 months. Your medical records will be reviewed and a letter from your doctor stating that it is okay for you to become pregnant again is required.

Can I be a surrogate if I haven’t had a child?

No, and here’s why. It’s difficult to agree to do something for someone else that you haven’t experienced for yourself. We require that you’ve given birth to at least one child and that you’re currently raising that child. Our screening process includes a review of your prenatal and delivery records to ensure that you have a history of healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries.

What happens after the baby is born?

The birth of the baby is one of the most exciting and rewarding steps of the entire surrogacy process. Most surrogates involve the intended parents in the labor and delivery process and celebrate with them as they welcome their new baby into the world. The intended parents assume full parental rights at birth. You may experience a mix of emotions after the birth, including excitement, pride and satisfaction. If you find yourself experiencing any difficult feelings, we encourage you to seek counseling and support services from Pacific Northwest Surrogacy. The connection you shared with the intended parents and the child will always be one of the most meaningful experiences in your life.

After the baby is born can I stay in contact with the baby and parents if I want to?

The amount of contact you have with the baby and the intended parents after the birth is discussed and decided by you and the intended parents. 

What are my responsibilities as a surrogate?

Your initial responsibilities include the completion of your application and all necessary clearance paperwork and abiding by the terms of your contract. As the process moves along, you need to keep your appointments, take all medications and injections as directed and follow your physician’s orders. Every match is unique, with issues and circumstances that need to be shared with the intended parents and Pacific Northwest Surrogacy. We want you to enjoy a rewarding experience. We do everything possible to make that happen.

Why do I need to be psychologically screened when I know I want to be a surrogate?

Surrogates are generally very sensitive, caring people, but being a gestational carrier is not for everyone. The surrogacy process is emotional. We want to make sure your expectations are fulfilled, as well as the expectations of the intended parents.

Are intended parents medically and psychologically screened?

Intended parents, like the surrogate candidates, are required to go through background checks, medical screenings and a psychological consult.

What procedures are involved in the medical screening process?

The medical screening will happen after you have been matched and before you start the legal process. The surrogacy medical screening process involves several medical tests and procedures to help the IVF physician determine that you are in good health and that it’s safe for you to proceed as a surrogate. Physicians vary in their screening protocol but perform some number of these tests: blood tests for various diseases, vaginal ultrasounds, hysterosalpingogram/HSG, hysteroscopy/HCG and gynecological exam. Your spouse or partner may also be required to take blood tests for various diseases.

How am I matched?

Pacific Northwest Surrogacy conducts extensive interviews with surrogates and with our intended parents. Based on what we learn in the interviews, we propose a match based on similarities in beliefs and expectations and specific needs and desires. We present profiles to the intended parents and to the surrogate; each party decides if they want to move forward together, or not. If yes, the introduction process begins. If not, we go back to the drawing board better informed and create a new match. 

Is there any wait to be matched with intended parents?

We never want to rush the matching process as the perfect match is a mutual decision. That said, from completion of your profile to the match can take as little as a few days to as long as several months, depending on your match expectations. 

How many embryos are transferred?

The number of embryos to be transferred is predetermined in your surrogacy agreement. The contract specifies the number of embryo transfer attempts to be completed and the number of embryos to be transferred during each attempt.

Are my eggs used to create the child I carry?

No. Pacific Northwest Surrogacy is a gestational surrogacy program. The medical process involved in IVF uses embryos created from the genetic material of the intended parents or a donor. The embryo is then transferred to your uterus. It is not your genetic child. You and the intended parents enter into a contract specifying that the intended parents are the legal and/or genetic parents of the child.

Do I have to take medications?

Yes. Depending on the IVF physician’s protocol, you may be required to take oral medications, vaginal suppositories and intramuscular injections to prepare your body for the embryo transfer and surrogate pregnancy. The fertility clinic provides detailed instructions on how and when to take your medications. It’s very important that you follow their instructions.

What if I don’t become pregnant?

During each round of IVF, your medical expenses are paid and you receive the agreed-upon reimbursements or monthly allowances. However, you do not begin receiving base compensation until after the pregnancy is confirmed and a heartbeat is heard on an ultrasound. We work with highly successful fertility clinics; it’s rare for a surrogate not to become pregnant during the agreed-upon number of embryo transfers.

Do I need medical insurance to become a surrogate?

You do not need medical insurance to join our program but all of our surrogates will have medical insurance prior to starting their medications. Intended parents are responsible for the cost of your insurance. We evaluate your insurance status at the time of your match and help institute an appropriate policy.

Is my personal health insurance used for surrogacy?

We help you review your health insurance for surrogacy exclusions. If there are no such exclusions, and if you agree, your policy is used to pay for pregnancy and delivery-related expenses. The intended parents pay for all expenses related to medical procedures, including co-pays, deductibles and any other expenses related to your pregnancy.

What type of support do I receive during the surrogacy process and pregnancy?

Surrogate well-being is very important to us. Pacific Northwest Surrogacy remains actively involved throughout the entire process, from initial consult to after the birth. You are assigned a case manager. She’s your on-call support to provide the necessary know-how, encouragement and guidance to create a smooth and memorable process. We also have a licensed social worker that works closely with our program and request that you check in with her with on a monthly basis for additional support services. 

Who helps me if my case worker is sick or goes on vacation?

Our team meets weekly to discuss the status of all matches to ensure that each match is cared for completely. We’re all here to help if and when you need us.

What happens in an emergency?

If you have a medical emergency, please go to the ER or call 911. All surrogates in our program are given the cell number of their case manager; she is your main contact. Feel free to call your case manager day or night. They’re here to ensure that you’re taken care of regardless of the time of day or the situation.

What are the first steps to become a surrogate?

Start by completing our short online intake form. Once we have it, we contact you within 48 hours for an introductory phone call. If you meet our initial criteria, we schedule you for an in-depth interview. In that meeting, we start building your surrogate profile, request the necessary medical records and get to know you. We learn what qualities you’re looking for in intended parents. After your medical records are received and reviewed by our consulting physician, you’re scheduled for psychological screening. If all goes well, we finish your surrogate profile and begin the matching process.

Working With a Surrogacy Agency

Why work with an agency instead of going independent?

There’s nothing wrong with you handling the surrogacy process. Independent scenarios can work well, with joyous outcomes. That said, there are advantages to using an agency. If you go independent, you generally list yourself in an online classified ad and can potentially expose yourself to a dangerous or fraudulent situation. Intended parents who are trying to cut the cost of surrogacy may be willing to cut other important costs, such as psychological or background screenings. An agency protects you by screening all parties. Handling the process yourself can jeopardize and even cripple your relationship with your intended parents, and the detail management can be overwhelming. We’re experts at managing the legal, medical and financial details. We provide the essential element of support. You and your intended parents can relax and enjoy the pregnancy.

Does your agency work with all types of couples?

Yes, Pacific Northwest Surrogacy does not discriminate against age, ethnic background, marital status or sexual orientation. 

How is the pregnancy managed?

After your pregnancy is confirmed, you receive care from the IVF doctor during your first trimester. At the 12-week mark in the pregnancy, the fertility doctor releases you to your OB/GYN, whose care is covered by your medical insurance. You are seen by your OB/GYN until you deliver the baby, generally at the hospital; however, if you and your intended parents are in agreement, the delivery may occur at a birthing center. Decisions regarding the pregnancy are a joint effort between you and your intended parents; most decisions are discussed and agreed upon before the legal agreements are signed. 

How much contact do I have with Pacific Northwest Surrogacy?

As much as you want. We’re here to help you through the entire surrogacy journey, from big issues to small concerns. If you need a friendly ear, we’re available to listen, to answer your questions and to calm any anxieties about this exciting adventure.

Why should I choose Pacific Northwest Surrogacy over other agencies?

We value family and relationships. We’re diligent about creating a good fit between the intended parent(s) and their surrogate, then offer support and guidance throughout the entire process. We recognize that building a family through surrogacy entails a life-changing experience for everyone involved. We’re passionate about our work, and we’re good at it.

How do I know I’m choosing the right surrogate agency for me?

Pacific Northwest Surrogacy respects you, your family and the choices you’ve made. We’re committed to supporting you from the moment you’re accepted into our program until well after the birth of the baby. Give us a call or make an appointment to meet with us in person or via Skype. This is a no-obligation opportunity to see if you connect with who we are and how we approach the surrogacy experience.

How do I know that I’m working with a reputable agency?

Research the agency. Make certain they have ties to the community and to ethics and professional organizations. Members of our staff are members of SEEDS (Society for Ethical Egg Donation and Surrogacy), Resolve (a national infertility society), American Bar Association Assisted Reproductive Technology Law Committee and Adoption Committee, Colorado Bar Association Family Law Section, Colorado Bar Association Women’s Section, and the Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.       

Legal Matters

Who chooses the attorney to review contracts with me and my husband or partner?

You choose your own attorney. If you don’t have an established relationship with an attorney who specializes in reproductive law, we provide a list of qualified attorneys who are located in and licensed to practice law in your specific state.

Am I related to the child? Do I have parental rights?

As a gestational surrogate, the embryo(s) transferred to you is genetically related to the intended parents and/or donor(s). You have no genetic relationship to the child or children who you carry as a surrogate and have no parental rights.  

Are my and my spouse or partner’s names on the birth certificate?

Your intended parents take the legal steps, with your cooperation, to acquire a court order before the birth. This document stipulates that their names be placed on the birth certificate. This document may be called a pre-birth order (PBO), parentage order, or birth order, depending on the state involved. In Washington and Oregon it is accomplished before the birth and in Idaho after.

What happens if one or both of the intended parents die before the baby is born?

We encourage all of our intended parents to have estate planning documents in place that establish legal custody of the baby should something happen to one or both of them during the pregnancy.

What happens if the intended parents divorce before the baby is born?

In the extremely unlikely and unfortunate situation of a divorce occurring before you give birth, custody of the child(ren) would be resolved between the intended parents through court custody proceedings. The child(ren) would never be your responsibility.

Who takes care of my family if something happens to me because of the pregnancy?

If you do not have a life insurance policy, the intended parents provide a policy that covers you for the duration of the pregnancy. This policy protects your family in the unlikely event that something happens to you.

Financial Matters

Does surrogacy cost me anything?

Absolutely not. Your intended parents are responsible for all expenses you incur as a result of the surrogacy, including your compensation, medical expenses, attorney fees and travel expenses.

How much am I paid?

We suggest that intended parents pay our first-time surrogates a base compensation of $40,000, but ultimately the amount you agree to is your decision. Experienced surrogates typically receive $45,000. If a surrogate is carrying multiples, she can expect to receive an additional $7,000 per baby. A monthly allowance and housekeeping allowance, which are standard, can add another $5,000 in reimbursements. Other, more variable compensations may include reimbursement for child care and lost wages if you are placed on bed rest or undergo a caesarean section or other invasive procedure.

How should I determine my compensation?

The level of compensation you request is a personal decision. We generally advise intended parents to offer $40,000 as base compensation for a first-time surrogate. Mitigating circumstances such as nonexistent or poor health insurance coverage may add significant costs for the intended parents. In that case, you may decide to request a lower base compensation, knowing the intended parents are paying your medical insurance premiums.

How am I paid?

Your intended parents retain the services of an independent escrow company to handle your compensation and expense reimbursements. You are required to submit an expense/compensation form every month, which we review. Intended parents may request a copy of this form. The escrow company mails you a check every month.

How often am I paid?

Once you and your intended parents have signed the legal agreement, you’re paid monthly according to your legal agreement. Your base compensation is typically divided into equal monthly amounts that begin after confirmation of a heartbeat (around 6-8 weeks of pregnancy). If you are carrying multiples, your multiple fee is divided and paid over the last five months of your pregnancy.

Am I paid more for carrying twins or triplets?

Yes. Our surrogates receive an additional $7,000 for each additional multiple in a pregnancy. 

How do I know my intended parents can afford the costs of surrogacy?

Before you’re cleared to undergo the embryo transfer, our intended parents are required to place sufficient funds to cover your fees and pregnancy-related expenses into an escrow trust fund.

How are financial issues handled?

All financial issues and discussions are handled through Pacific Northwest Surrogacy or the escrow agency. We believe that you and your intended parents should be free to focus on the pregnancy and your relationship. As your agency, we handle all financial discussions, alleviating you and your intended parents of the burdens they can cause.

Is there a chance I may not receive the compensation we contractually agreed upon?

Money is obviously part of the equation in any surrogacy relationship. To alleviate your worries, we require that intended parents place sufficient funds to cover all anticipated costs into a qualified independent or attorney-run escrow company before you’re allowed to undergo your IVF cycle. The escrow company holds and administers all funds related to your surrogacy in a managed trust account. This ensures that you’re paid in a timely manner. You and your intended parents have no need to worry about money and can focus instead on your pregnancy.

Who pays the medical bills?

Your health insurance policy, provided you have one. If you don’t have health insurance, a policy is purchased for you by your intended parents. Health insurance covers the majority of the bills related to your pregnancy and delivery. Your intended parents also pay all co-pays, deductibles and the medical costs you incur as a result of your IVF cycle and pregnancy. Incidental items such as pre-natal pills are covered under your monthly allowance.

Will I miss work?

Many IVF clinic appointments are time-sensitive. There is a likelihood that you may have to miss work or schedule appointments before or after work, just as you would with any pregnancy. You may also be required to be on bed rest for a certain period of time after an embryo transfer, depending on IVF clinic protocol. 

Do I need to travel and, if so, who pays my travel costs?

If your intended parents choose a fertility clinic in a city where you don’t live, you need to make two trips to the clinic location. The first trip is for the medical screening and usually lasts 1-2 days. The second trip is for the embryo transfer and typically lasts 2-4 days. The intended parents pay for your travel costs and fees as agreed to in your surrogacy agreement.

Do I receive a 1099?

No, we currently do not provide a 1099. We recommend that you seek advice from a tax professional if you have concerns in this regard. If you wish, we can refer you to a tax professional.

Medical Concerns

Why is BMI important?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Women within a certain BMI range are more likely to respond positively to IVF medications. Fertility clinics set their own BMI guidelines. Exceptions can be made, but the doctor is the one who makes that determination. The goal is to create optimum conditions for a positive outcome.

How long do I have to wait after I deliver before becoming a surrogate?

Most IVF doctors prefer that you wait 6-12 months before undergoing an embryo transfer. We can match you with intended parents and obtain legal clearance during that time frame but it’s important to let your body heal after your most recent delivery to ensure the safest outcome for you.

If I’ve had an abortion can I still be a surrogate?

As long as you have had at least one healthy, full-term pregnancy, an abortion does not prohibit you from acting as a surrogate.

If I take medications can I still be a surrogate?

This question is answered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us and ask if the medication you take is acceptable. Some medications are acceptable but still require the approval of the IVF physician and the intended parents.

What medications do I take as a surrogate?

Fertility clinics require different protocols so your experience may vary. Typical medications include Pre-Natal Vitamins, Birth Control, Lupron, Progesterone, Estrogen, Steroids and antibiotics. Some medications are taken orally and others are administered in the form of injections, suppositories or patches.

What are the health risks as a surrogate?

A surrogate pregnancy includes the same risks involved in a regular pregnancy as well as those risks specific to in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures. Contact your OB/GYN to discuss the risks of surrogacy pregnancy.

What is the transfer procedure like for surrogates?

The embryo transfer is a quick and relatively painless procedure. The IVF doctor inserts the embryo(s) into your uterus through a small catheter. An ultrasound may be used to help guide the physician during the transfer. Once the embryologist has ensured that the embryos(s) are safely inserted, you remain in the recovery room for 30-60 minutes before leaving the clinic. Doctors vary in their protocol but most require 1-5 days of bed rest, which begins as soon as you’re home. If you don’t live locally, the bed rest begins when you return to the hotel following the transfer.

What should I expect during the medical process?

The first step is blood and urine tests for you and your spouse or partner. These are done by the IVF physician, who also performs a pelvic exam, ultrasound and consultation to explain the IVF process in detail. The legal contracts are signed and the IVF process continues. You’re given medications and/or injections and receive specific instructions regarding the preparation of your body for a successful embryo transfer.

An agreed-upon number of embryos are placed in your uterus for implantation. This is usually a quick and painless procedure. You may be asked to rest for a few days following the transfer. 

A pregnancy test is conducted via a blood draw 10-12 days after the transfer. Once you’re pregnant, you stay on your medications to ensure that the pregnancy grows. About six weeks after conception, a heartbeat is confirmed via ultrasound and you begin receiving your base compensation. Near the end of the first trimester when the pregnancy is deemed stable, the fertility doctor releases you to your OB/GYN for prenatal care and regular checkups.

Do I have a say in the number of embryos transferred to me? 

Yes. During the screening and interview process, we talk with you about the IVF process and the standard protocol for embryo transfer, and we learn your comfort level regarding the number of embryos.

What if I don’t get pregnant the first time?

We work with highly successful fertility clinics. Many surrogates become pregnant during the first IVF cycle. While you are never required to undergo an IVF procedure if you don’t want to, most intended parents ask surrogates to commit to undergoing up to three rounds of IVF. The intended parents pay your surrogacy-related medical bills during the IVF process and you receive a monthly allowance. However, you do not begin receiving your base compensation until the pregnancy is confirmed by ultrasound.

Are my eggs used to create the child I carry?

No. Pacific Northwest Surrogacy is a gestational surrogacy program. The medical process involved in IVF uses embryos created from the genetic material of the parents or a donor. That embryo is then transferred to your uterus; it is not your genetic child. You and the intended parents enter into a contract that specifies the intended parents as the legal and/or genetic parents of the child.

Can I be a surrogate if I have had my tubes tied?

Absolutely! Pregnancy in a gestational surrogate is achieved through in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF embryos are placed directly into the uterus; the surrogate’s fallopian tubes are not involved.  

If I have an IUD, can I apply to be a surrogate?

You may apply to be a surrogate but before you can be medically cleared, your IUD must be removed and you must have established regular periods post-removal of the device. This can take several months and may delay your matching.

Are all the fertility doctors and clinics in the Pacific Northwest?

No. While the Pacific Northwest has many top-ranked fertility centers, some intended parents choose fertility centers in their own community. If long-distance travel is required, your travel expenses are covered by the intended parents. Travel is only required during the initial stages of the fertility treatment and pregnancy. 

Where is the baby delivered? Can I choose my OB?

All of our surrogates are required to reside and give birth in Washington, Oregon or Idaho. For your comfort, we prefer that you use the same hospital and OB/GYN you used with your own pregnancies. If this isn’t possible, we can help you locate another OB/GYN specialist and hospital close to home.

May I deliver the baby at home or in a birthing center?

If this is important to you, please let us know. Many intended parents are uncomfortable with the idea of a surrogate delivering at home or in a birthing center. Your match may take longer while we locate parents who are open to the possibility. Many of our surrogates work with midwives and doulas in the hospital setting and some hospitals offer alternative birthing options such as water birth.

Can I contract a disease from the embryo transfer?

Intended parents are also screened for transmittable diseases during the medical screening process so the risk of you contracting a disease from the embryo transfer is extremely low. However, we recommend you discuss all risks and concerns thoroughly with your OB/GYN and the IVF physician.

What if I don’t have health insurance?

If you do not have health insurance or if your insurance does not cover surrogate pregnancy, the intended parents pay for a new health insurance policy for you for the duration of the pregnancy.

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